From The History of Montgomery County, Ohio by W. H. Beers & Company 1882

Brookville Historical Society, Inc. 2003



Washington Township is situated in the southeastern part of the county, and is bounded on the north by Van Buren Township, on the east by Greene County, on the south by Warren County, and on the west by Miami Township.

It was organized as a township probably as early as May, 1803, and most certainly some time between March and June of that year. It at first extended a distance of seven miles north and south, and from Greene County to German Township east and west. On December 9, 1829, Miamisburg, with a part of Miami Township, which at that time belonged to Washington, was stricken off. On the 24th of June, 1841, a strip of land a mile in width was taken off the northern end of this township and added to Van Buren Township. These successive spoliations have reduced the township to an area of thirty square miles, or a distance of six miles north and south and five miles east and west.

Washington Township was one of the first settled points in the county, for, in February, 1796, two months before a settlement had been made at Dayton, we find a company of men from Kentucky, among whom were Aaron Nutt, Benjamin Robbins and Benjamin Archer, surveying near the present site of Centerville. The first camp struck by these adventurous civil engineers was on the farm now owned by William Weller, just on the outskirts of town. However, they only remained a short time in this place, for, upon the discovery of "Indian signs," the camp was hastily vacated, and they removed two miles to the northeast and took up a position on the farm now owned by Samuel Weller. Here they found a secure retreat, just south of the old Pardington buildings, in a ravine, and here they remained in undisputed possession until they had completed their survey. How long this was we cannot say, but they certainly did not hasten the completion of their work for lack of meat, as a large turkey roost was discovered on what is now the farm of Alonzo Montgomery, and the party hunter had an easy time of it, except, perhaps, carrying in the feathered denizens of the forest. After the survey had been completed, the plat was laid down in the woods, and these primitive surveyors proceeded to draw cuts for first choice of land. Benjamin Robbins was the first lucky man, and, influenced by the springs discovered, immediately selected the half section of land which lay on the west of Centerville, and which embraced the lands now owned by Benjamin Davis, Mason Allen and others. Aaron Nutt, to whom fate ordained the last choice, always maintained that "Benny had made a poor choice," as better springs were afterward discovered on his own lands. Benjamin Archer, who had second choice, selected the half section northeast of Centerville, and Aaron Nutt took the same amount of land directly east of town.

After the selection of lands, they mounted their horses and returned to their families in Kentucky, well pleased with the country which they were soon to make their home. They say of the fertility of the soil at this time "that while surveying they found wild rye up to their horses' sides."

Benjamin Robbins was the first to take possession of the land thus obtained, and, in the spring of the same year, came with his wife and several children to Ohio, and built a log cabin near where, years afterward, the stone house now occupied by William Davis was erected.

Two years later, Aaron Nutt came to join the fortunes of his brother-in-law, Robbins, and established for himself a home in the Ohio forest. Robbins pressed him to unload and share his cabin until he had erected one of his own. "No," said Mr. Nutt, "I'll never unload until I can carry my goods into my own house." He had to go to Franklin, nine miles away, for assistance, but, as he was particular to tell every one, that he had brought six gallons of Kentucky whisky with him, on the day appointed there were many willing hands and kind hearts to give the stranger a lift. Before evening, the logs had been cut, the clapboards made and the cabin finished, and that night Mr. Nutt and family were securely established in their new home and slept beneath their own roof.

It is probable that Benjamin Archer, the last of the three surveyors, came out about the same time, but it is not definitely known. There are some points in the history of Mr. Archer, or Judge Archer, as he was always called, worthy of note, and, as he did not remain permanently in the settlement, we will give them here.

A native of New Jersey, he removed to Philadelphia, where he was created Judge of one of the courts. From that city, he removed to Kentucky, and from there to Washington Township. Here he remained until 1824, and was one of the leading men in the community, at one time being Associate Judge of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. From this State, he went to Fort Wayne, Ind., where he seems to have been satisfied to give up his travels and permanently locate. Judge Archer was distinctively a progressive man, for, besides his pioneer work in this State, we find him engaged in laudable enterprises wherever he was located. It is generally conceded that he made the first brick and built the first brick house in Fort Wayne, where he died in 1830.

The settlement having been established in Washington Township, there were soon others to recognize the fertility and advantages of the place, and, in the course of a very few years, many families were located in the vicinity of the present town of Centerville.

Among these was the family of Dr. John Hole, who is believed to have been a native of Virginia. In 1796, he was living in Now Jersey, and determined to penetrate the wilderness west of the Ohio. He first stopped at Cincinnati, where he remained one year, and removed to this township in the spring of 1797. He located three and a half miles northwest of Centerville, where he entered a section and a half of land, on what he named Silver Creek, but what soon came to be known far and near as Hole's Creek, a name which it retains at the present day. He erected the first two saw-mills in the township. Dr. Hole was the first practitioner in the township, and was well known for his liberality and hospitality. His cabin was always open to travelers, and many recipients of his bounty relate that when asking for their bill for a night's lodging, they were told to "go and do likewise."

While studying for his profession, he was appointed Assistant Surgeon by his preceptor at the battle of Bunker Hill, and was afterward one of the regular Surgeons in the army of Montgomery and Arnold at the storming of Quebec.

In this battle he says: "I dressed the wounds of the soldiers beneath the walls of the fort by the flash of the cannon." At one time in the battle, a soldier was carried in and laid on the table before the doctor. "I can't do anything for this man; his head is gone," he exclaimed with his usual promptness. It was a mistake which might easily occur in the darkness of the night and confusion of the battle. He was near Gen. Montgomery when the latter received his death wound, and saw him reel and spin round like a top while advancing on the ice.

Dr. Hole's cabin stood on the spot where David Gephart lately erected a frame house, just below Eno Belloman's mill. It was a round-log cabin, with clapboard roof and loft, puncheon floor and cat and clay chimney, that is, made of small sticks and filled in with clay. He died January 6, 1813, aged fifty-eight years.

John Ewing, Sr., better known as Judge Ewing, came here in the same year with Dr. Hole, and settled on adjoining land. His descendants are still living in the neighborhood. His son Joseph was one of the first surveyors in Montgomery County, in which capacity he served fifteen years. His son John died January 30, 1882, on the old homestead farm, a few rods from his birth place, eighty years before. He has a daughter still living in Dayton.

Henry Stansell first came to Ohio in 1801. He built a log cabin and then returned to Kentucky for his family, whom he removed to their new home the following year. Another prominent but later settler was Daniel Wilson, who removed from Greene County in 1811. Mr. Wilson was born in New Jersey, April 21, 1759. He was married to Sarah Sutton, September 23, 1784, and to Elizabeth Price, February 17, 1807. He died September 7, 1847. He removed from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, and thence to Greene County, Ohio, where he built the first house in that county, April 7, 1796. When, in 1799, the first church was built in Washington Township, the trees were blazed from Mr. Wilson's to this church, in order that the Greene County settlers might attend the Lord's service without danger of being lost in the woods.

Among the other pioneers were the three Baileys--John, Andrew and David (M. D.). These men, the fruits of whose industry we to-day enjoy without thinking of the labor it cost to clear and improve the land, had many difficulties to contend with, not the least of which was the matter of moving. We will give one or two instances illustrative of this part of this work.

Henry Stansell, assisted by Jerry Allen, and accompanied by his wife and five children, left Kentucky for Ohio in 1802. Their worldly store was not large or very valuable, but part of it was bulky and cumbersome. In addition to their live stock, which consisted of three horses, one hen and a few geese, they brought with them all the household and kitchen furniture and farming implements necessary to set up housekeeping and commence farming in a new country. One of the horses was detailed to carry Mrs. Stansell, a saddle, a feather bed and a baby four months old. Each of the remaining horses carried one of the men, two children, cooking utensils, provisions for the journey, farming implements, etc. The geese were compelled to travel on foot, but then managed to dead-head it on one of the horses. A sad misfortune befell them in Cincinnati, for one of the geese strayed from the flock and was lost in the streets of that city. It was afterward discovered, however, and brought home in triumph.

The settlers were not by any means all from the same locality or even from the same State. New England contributed her share, and, in 1797, Jonathan and Edmund Munger and Benjamin Maltbie left Middleburg, Vt., with their families, for the territory northwest of the Ohio River. They traveled in two three-horse wagons, the wheel horses being driven with lines and the leader ridden by a boy. While coming through Pennsylvania and moving along at a brisk trot, by a sudden jolt, Jonathan Munger, who was riding on one of the wagons, was thrown under the wheels, and, before the horses could be checked, or he could extricate himself, both wheels passed over him: Such bold spirits were not to be thwarted by a little accident like that, and they moved on to Marietta, where they remained for a time in the stockade. From there, they dropped down the river to Belpre, where, in 1799, they raised considerable corn and transported it to Columbia in pirogues. In 1800, Jonathan and Edmund Munger, with the families of all three men, moved down the river in pirogues. Benjamin Maltbie, with some of the boys, brought the horses down by land. The harness and wagons were carried in the boats. At some point, one of the pirogues was overturned and a feather bed, containing a baby, floated down with the current. The bed was somewhat dampened; but the pirogue was not injured and the baby was saved. They landed at Cincinnati, harnessed their horses, hitched to their wagons, and, having loaded them with as much of their goods as they could haul over the unbroken roads, started for Washington Township. The women and all the children who were able to walk performed their journey on foot.

The settlers were greatly troubled by venomous snakes. Benjamin Bobbins discovered a den in close proximity to his house, and called in the neighbors to help exterminate the pests. About a dozen backwoodsmen came in to make a day's work of it, and the result of the hunt was 400, mostly rattlesnakes, and having from sixteen to twenty-four rattles each.

The woods were full of game of all kinds, but bears, deer and wild turkeys were most abundant, as well as most valuable, as to these they looked for their meat. Many interesting stories are told of bear hunts, deer chases and, big turkey hauls, and a few of these we will give.

One day, Boston Hoblet was paying his friend, Benjamin Robbins, a visit, and while at dinner a loud squealing was heard in the direction of the pig-lot. Both men sprang from the table and seized their guns, for, as was customary in those days, Hoblet had brought his along. Hoblet led the way, and, on nearing the lot, discovered a large bear tearing away at a sow's shoulders, and, by a well-directed shot, succeeded in bringing bruin to the ground. "Now, Boston," said Robbins, who at that moment came up and saw what his friend had done, "I'll give you a pig for that." So he did. "And that pig," says Hoblet, "was the first one I ever owned." That one lucky shot gave him a start in the pig line and he became a successful hog-raiser.

Shortly after the settlers from New England had established themselves, on the head-waters of Hole's Creek, some of the younger members of the family of Jonathan Munger reported to their father that they had seen a "monster black cat" run up a tree. Without waiting for his gun, the father promptly climbed the tree, and, with a good stout club, invited the "black cat" down so forcibly that he quickly accepted the invitation and descended to the ground rather more hurriedly than gracefully, where he was hospitably received by the family dog and the children. In relating the incident afterward, Mr. Munger was free to admit that he would have been in some danger had Mrs. Bruin made her appearance on the battle-field; but, as he was unacquainted with bear habits at that time, he always wound up his story by characteristically saying, "High, la me; them that knows nothin' fears nothin'."

One fall, after Mr. John Ewing had put up his hogs for fattening, he came across a large bear in the woods, and, after following him all day to the Little Miami and back, succeeded in killing him close to his house. This was considered an extra good day's work, and he was so well satisfied with the amount of meat thus obtained that his hogs were turned out to be kept for the next year's fattening.

So much for bear stories. The last bear killed in the township was in the fall of 1826, on the farm of Daniel Hines. Louis Taylor says that this bear was shot almost simultaneously by Simon H. Douglass and William Russell, but that he thinks Russell's gun cracked first.

A man by the name of Clawson, who was a celebrated hunter, once went to the shop of Edmund Munger to have some blacksmithing done, but was told by Mr. Munger that he could not do the work, as his family was out of meat and he must go to the woods and kill some turkeys. "I can kill more turkeys than you can," said Clawson, "and if you'll go into the shop and do my work, I'll go into the woods and do your hunting." The proposition was accepted, and Clawson, with an old horse and a boy, started into the woods. In the evening, he returned and made good his boast, for the old horse was loaded down with twenty-one fine, fat turkeys.

One night, Jonathan Munger, hearing a noise in the top of an elm which he had felled near his house, fired his rifle in the direction of the sound and returned the gun to its place. By the next day, he had forgotten all about the circumstance, and did not go near the tree until noon, when he discovered the hogs eagerly devouring the carcass of a deer, which his random shot had killed. This was the man who, it is said, has been known to climb a tree, transfer a swarm of bees to a sack and return stingless to the ground.

Gradually, however, the larger animals were driven off or killed, and before the close of the first quarter of the present century, most of them had disappeared. The last "porcupine," or American hedgehog, was killed one Sunday morning in the summer of 1830, while crossing the street in Centerville, just below the present residence of Dr. Lamme.

The amusements of our pioneer forefathers was much the same in every township, and were adapted to their free and open manner of living. The apple cuttings, spinning frolics, quiltings, corn huskings and log rollings were universally attended and. enjoyed by everybody. They always combined the useful with the pleasant, and their seasons of enjoyment were seasons of profit as well. Their play was their work. There were no social bickerings and no "select crowds." Society acknowledged but one class, and the open sesame of its doors was honesty, uprightness and a good appetite for work. The aristocracy of wealth, the aristocracy of good looks and the aristocracy of good clothes all ranked below the aristocracy of physical manhood, Probably one of their most popular enjoyments was their "spinning frolics," as upon these they depended for their year's clothing. Preparatory to the "frolic," however, the flax must be pulled by the boys and girls; next, it was spread and watered for the purpose of hastening disintegration; after it had lain for some time, so as to be readily broken, it must be "winded" or "scutched;" next, the hacking process must be gone through with, after which came the "spinning bee," not the least agreeable part of which, to the boys at least, was carrying the girls' spinning-wheels to and from the party. After the spinning, came the weaving, which latter process was generally performed by a few families in the neighborhood, for some slight compensation. This was because looms were expensive and weaving required some practice.

In this line we might add that the champion flax-dresser in the neighborhood was David Bowlby, who, in two days, dressed 236 pounds--120 the first and 116 the second.

Washington Township is not to-day anything but distinctively agricultural in its pursuits. There are but two streams and their tributaries, which have ever afforded any water-power, and since the country has been cleared up and these have been greatly diminished in volume, and especially since the application of steam has become so universal as to render water-power machinery almost useless, the goodly amount of machinery once employed in this township has fallen into disuse, and the mills and factories have been torn down and destroyed.

Almost every conceivable industry has at some time been carried on within the limits of the township. Hole's and Sugar Creeks have afforded employment for no less than seven saw-mills, five flouring-mills, one cotton factory, one fulling-mill and one oil-mill. Besides this water-power machinery there have been in use at different times, two horse-power carding machines, and three steam saw-mills.

One of the first men identified with the manufacturing interests of this township was Isaac Harrison, who came to Ohio in 1802, and settled twelve miles above Cincinnati. By trade, he was a carder and fuller, and, removing to Washington Township in 1808, he purchased land on Hole's, Creek, near Woodburn, upon which there was a saw mill in operation. This mill he continued to run until he enlisted in the war of 1812. After returning from the war, he, in 1813 or 1814, converted his saw-mill into a carding and fulling mill. This was the second mill of the kind in the county, and was operated by Mr. Harrison until 1833, when it was abandoned, and a stone factory, for the manufacture of cloth, stocking yarn, etc., took its place. This factory Mr. Harrison continued to operate until his death in December, 1842, and then the property fell into the hands of his son William, by whom the business was prosecuted two years longer, when it was suspended.

Probably the most extensive and at the same time the least profitable business ever carried on in the township was the manufacture of woolen, cotton, hemp and linen goods by the "Farmers' and Mechanics' Manufacturing Company, of Centerville, Montgomery Co., Ohio." Excessive length of title must have been fatal to the company, for, although it is believed that the firms who leased the company's property all made money, the venture was a decided financial failure to the company itself, some members of which lost $20,000 before the factory was abandoned.

In October, 1815, a meeting of the respectable gentlemen of the county was called at the house of John Archer, Centerville, to discuss the feasibility of establishing a woolen and cotton factory on Hole's Creek. Books for stock subscription were opened immediately after the meeting, and, January 24, 1816, the trustees met at the same place to elect a superintendent and let contracts for building the factory, digging the race, making the dam and for millwright work.

It was not the design of the company to run the factory themselves, but to lease it to reliable manufacturing firms or men. The first lessees were Isaac Hodgson & Co., and they commenced operations some time in 1817. Another leasee was Michael Canady, who held the property for several years.

The following is believed to be a complete, list of the stockholders: John Archer, James S. Blair, William Blair, John Bailey, Jacob Benner, Abraham Buckles, Aaron Baker, James Chatham, Abner Crane, Thomas Clawson, John Gephart, Abner Girard, John Harris, Amos Irvin, William Irvin, William Long, William Luce, Edmund Munger, Richard Mason, Benjamin Maltbie, Thomas Newton, Aaron Nutt, Sr., George Nultz, William Newman, James Russell, Thomas Rue, Peter Sunderland, Henry Stansell, William Stephen; Robert Scott, John Taylor, Asher Tibbals, Samuel Wilson, John Whitsell, Jonathan Watkins, Jacob Yazel, David Yazel.

The first managers of the company were Benjamin Maltbie, Thomas Clawson and Thomas Newton. We insert a copy of the notification to Mr. Maltbie of his appointment:

SIR: I would inform you that the Trustees of the Farmers' and Mechanics' Manufacturing Company of Centerville, Montgomery Co., Ohio, have unanimously appointed you to assist in the management and superintending the business of the factory in concert with Thomas Newton and Thomas Clawson, and will give such compensation as shall be deemed reasonable for such services. Yours with respect,

MR. BENJAMIN MALTBIE.                                                                      JOHN ARCHER, Pres.

The following instructions were given to the managers:

     The managers of the Factory company are directed to superintend to all the different Branches of the Building of the Factory, and are empowered to Purchase such necessary articles and tools as are absolutely wanted for the use of Said Company--and they are also directed to attend to the carding meshein, take account of all wool that may be brought to be carded, and to receive and account for all monies or other Pay for carding and make A report to the Trustees at their monthly meeting. The aforesaid manager, are Authorized to contract for such Laborers as shall be wanted to carry said Building into effect agreeable to former contract and they are to Procure A Desk to Deposit.

                                                                                                                         JOHN ARCHER, Pres.
                                                                                                                         JOHN HARRIS,         } Trustees
                                                                                                                         WILLIAM LUCE,      }      of
                                                                                                                         RICHARD MASON,   } Factory.
                                                                                                                         JACOB BENNER,

The following items are taken from the memorandum of Benjamin Maltbie:

June 10, 1816. Began to superintend the factory. The hands that worked to-day were Robert Russell, William Russell and Abraham Clawson, by the month.

Joseph Platts, by the day.................................... $ .62½

Andrew McNeal, by the day................................. .62½

Jonathan Mills, by the day.................................... .62½

John Wolf, by the day........................................... .50

John Cole, by the day............................................ .75

Edward-Smith, by the day .................................... .56

June 13, 1816: This Day agreed with Mr. Stags of Middletown to Come next Monday and Put up, the machienes if Trustees will not Imploy him he is to have Pay for One Day that is Two Dollars he is to have Two Dollars and his Board Per Day.

Got one quart of whiskey on the credit of the company.

The first order issued by this company was in favor of Aaron Nutt, Sr., for hauling, amount, $10.04½; date, January 27, 1816. Abner Crane furnished the company at different times 306,290 bricks, at a total cost of $1,378.30½.

The lime used in constructing the factory was obtained from Amos and William Irvin and amounted to 4,671 bushels.

One of the Treasurers of the company was James Russell, and the amount of money which passed through his hands while serving in that capacity was $8,056.78¾. Mr. Russell's books show that on settlement he had always paid out more money than he had taken in.

In 1819, the property of the company changed hands, and we append. the article of agreement between the old and new companies:

Articles of Agreement made between the Farmers' and Mechanics' Manufacturing Company of Centerville, Montgomery Co., Ohio--in the first part and John Harris, John Taylor, Jacob Benner, William Luce & Francies Dilts their Heirs and Assigns on the second part witnesseth that the said Farmers' and Mechanics' Manufacturing Company of Centerville &c., do agree and bind themselves to transfer all their right and title to their Land and Factory lying and standing on the waters of Hole's Creek Adjoining to Isaac Harrison's Land with all the Privileges and Appurtenances thereunto belonging for and in consideration of ten thousand Dollars to be Paid to the aforesaid, company it is understood by the Parties that the said Harris Luce Taylor Benner and Dilts have assumed all the Debts against said company and are to Pay the remaining part of the ten thousand Dollar; if any remains in six equal annual Payments the first payment to be paid by the first day of July 1821--and the aforesaid Manufacturing Company hold the aforesaid Property as security until those of the second part have complied with the aforesaid contract in testimony hereof we have set our hands and seals this third day of July 1819.

Test {EDMUND MUNGER,                                                                                    JOHN HARRIS,  [Seal.]
        {JOHN MINTURN,                                                                                           JACOB BENNER, [Seal.]
                                                                                                                                     JOHN TAYLOR,  [Seal.]
                                                                                                                                     WILLIAM LUCE,  [Seal.]
                                                                                                                                     FRANSIS DILS,  [Seal.]

It will be seen by a comparison of the names of the parties to this agreement with the names of the original stockholders that there were no new members admitted to the company, but only one part of the original owners bought the interest of certain others, who were wise enough to see that they had made a bad financial investment.

The factory was in operation until about 1840, when it was closed up and the building torn down. This company is supposed to have organized under the following general law, passed in 1812 and limiting to five years:

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, that at any time within five years, any two or more persons who should be desirous to form a company for the purpose of manufacturing woolen, cotton, hemp, yarn, etc.

The first flouring-mill built within the present limits of the township was by a man by the name of Waup. This mill was located on a tributary of Hole's Creek, in the northwestern part of the township. At this mill wheat was ground for the army in the war of 1812.

In the days of buckskin breeches and coonskin caps, tanning green hides was one of the important industries, and we find that there were four tanyards sunk in this township, all of which enjoyed more or less patronage.

When the first one was sunk, we are unable to determine, but it must have been as early at least as 1802, as the following items, taken from Aaron Nutt, Sr.'s, memoranda, go to prove:

Aug. 11, 1802. Johnathan Munger brought a cows hid marked J. M.

Aug. 13, 1802. James Snowden brought a horses hid marked J. S.

March 23, 1803. Justice Luce brought a Steer hid marked J. L.

March 23, 1803. Peter Borders brought a bull hid marked P. B.

March 23, 1803. Peter Sunderland brought a calfskin marked P. S.

April 11, 1803. John Cotrel brought a deerskin marked J. C.

April 13, 1803. ' Andrew Boyle brought a hid and a pease and a bearskin.

June 4, 1803. Conrod Carter brought a cow a calf four hogs a dog and a bearskin.

Among other items, we find mentioned "heffir," sheep and ground-hog skins. Truly, if, as they say, "Variety is the very spice of life," the tanyard must have furnished its share of enjoyment to Mr. Nutt.

The other tanyards were owned by David Miller, Joseph Sunderland and John H. Martin, but they were of a later date, and, like the first, have ceased to exist.

In 1819, there was erected at Woodburn a shop for the manufacture of stoves, pots, kettles and machinery of all kinds. This was the only foundry in the county until 1828.

In 1820, at Woodburn, Anthony Jones had an establishment for printing bedspreads, quilts, pocket-handkerchiefs, etc. He was the only calico printer who ever carried on his trade in the township.

In 1835, one of the first shops in the county for the manufacture of steel carriage-springs was in operation at Stringtown.

John Irons was the first man in Centerville to make the old wooden mold-board plows. He always declared there was no rule to make them by and you just had to "cut and fit and fit and cut."

About 1835, and continuing four or five years, the cooper trade was very profitable in Centerville. There were probably not more than two principal shops, but, as pork-packing was then at its height, these gave employment to a great many hands. Abraham Nixon and Nathan Reid were the principal men engaged in this trade, and their work was all taken by James Harris, the principal pork-packer. This last-mentioned occupation was at that time very popular, and besides the gentlemen mentioned above, there were engaged in the business James Brown & Co., about 1830, and later, such men as the Harrises, father and two sons, John C. Murphy, Benjamin Hatfield, N. S. Sunderland, Harris & Allen, Harris & Maxwell and Harris & Fisk.

The first goods sold in the township were brought here by Benjamin Archer and sold in a log cabin, two miles northeast of Centerville, on the farm now owned by Alonzo Montgomery. These goods were hauled from Cincinnati, and Judge Archer paid for the hauling at a certain price per hundred weight. One winter, when there was good sleighing, he sent several sleds after a new stock of goods he had just purchased. As the pay was in proportion to the size of the load, of course there was considerable rivalry among the teamsters for heavy burdens. On this occasion, the man who was the least fortunate only succeeded in getting one box of hats, weighing thirty pounds. In the spring of 1827, a number of unsalable hats were found in the loft of the old cabin, and they were supposed to a part of this veritable thirty-pound box, which had required two horses and a sled to bring it from Cincinnati.

The first store in Centerville was kept by Aaron Nutt, Sr., on the same lot on which the only dry goods store in the town now stands. His first stock of goods Mr. Nutt hauled in a cart from Baltimore. This was in the spring of 1811. Previous to this, Mr. Nutt had lost the money with which he expected to pay for his Ohio property by lending it to an irresponsible man in Kentucky. In 1810, seeing he must make some extra exertion in order to discharge his obligation, Mr. Nutt raised all the produce he was able to and purchased as much more as his means would permit. In company: with John Price, Peter Sunderland and others, he loaded this on two flat-boats at Cincinnati, on the 13th of December, 1810, and started to "coast" down to New Orleans. They had many queer experiences with the Southern "aristocracy." At one point, when enumerating his commodities to a Southern lady, Mr. Nutt mentioned lard. "Have you lard?" quickly asked this daughter of the South. Upon his assuring her that he had it both in quantity and quality, she responded: "If you have lard, I'll take a barrel; so many of those dirty flat-boatmen come along here and want to sell me hog's fat, and I won't have that dirty stuff." He assured her that he had genuine lard, and she said she would send the "niggers" down to bring it up. This she did, and Mr. Nutt received his pay, congratulating himself that he had learned to call things by their right names, while the lady was not a little pleased to find one boatman who did not sell hog's fat.

Arriving at New Orleans, these gentlemen sold their remaining stock at very advantageous prices. Peter Sunderland found that he had sold so much of his goods on credit that he had scarcely money enough to bring him home. But Mr. Price and Mr. Nutt had fared better, and, happening to meet with a sea Captain from Baltimore, who told them of fabulous prices paid for produce in that city, Mr. Nutt determined to invest in a flat-boat load which had just come in and take it there. The Captain who gave them information as to prices carried there both and Mr. Nutt's merchandise to Baltimore, where he found prices even better than had been represented. Having again sold out his produce, Mr. Nutt invested in a horse and cart and a cart load of dry goods. These he hauled overland to Centerville, in the spring of 1811, fat and hearty from his sea voyage, and with enough money in his pocket to pay all his debts.

We give below a copy of the "permit" which gave him the authority to start a store in Centerville:


Be it known that by virtue of the power in me vested by a law of this State entitled "An act for grantin license and regulating ferries taverns and stores." Permission is hereby granted to Aaron Nutt Sr. of Washington Township in this county to keep a store and vend merchandise at his house in said township from the date hereof until the next term of our court of Common Pleas to be holden at Dayton on the second Monday of September next according to the statute in such case made and provided.

In Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the seal of our said Court of Common Pleas at Dayton the twentieth day of May one thousand eight hundred and eleven.

B. VAN CLEVE, clk. M. C. P. p. t.

Mr. Nutt was still in the business in 1815, and we find this list of wholesale prices for that year: Lead pencils, 31 cents; British oil, 37½ cents per bottle; peppermint, 28 cents per bottle; Godfrey's cordial, 37½ cents per bottle, Bateman's drops, 37½ cents per bottle; camphor, 50 cents per bottle; nutmegs, 18 cents; darning-needles, 6¼ cents; allspice, 75 cents per pound; apron check, 50 cents per yard; linsey, $1 per yard; pink cambric, 75 cents per yard; cambric, $2.25 per yard; jackanett, $1.62 per yard; pewter dish, $2.25.

Among other things we notice that the retail price of tea, in 1813, was $2.50 per pound; of penny nails, 21 cents per pound; coffee, 50 cents per pound; calico, 87½ cents per yard.

But probably the most expensive article which the early settlers had to buy was salt. Benjamin Maltbie paid $26.87½ for a barrel of salt in Cincinnati.

The first tavern kept in the township was by Aaron Nutt, Sr. This house, or, more properly, log cabin, was opened up about 1800, just north of the town plat, where Frank Harris now resides. Its sign was a pair of buck's horns, and it enjoyed a moderate share of patronage, but was only continued a short time.

John Archer opened up the first tavern in Centerville, with the sign of the "cross keys."

Since that time, there have been many taverns in the township, good, bad and indifferent, with probably a predominance in favor of the good. The most famous was that of Enos Doolittle, and it soon came to be known far and near as the best stopping-place for travelers west of the Alleghanies.

This gentleman, who was a genuine type of the New England Yankee, came to the town in 1820 as a peddler. With keen Yankee foresight, he saw an opening for trade in the town and immediately opened up a dry goods store. This, however, did not agree with him, and, purchasing suitable property, he opened a tavern in 1832. In 1822 or 1823, he was married to Miss Bathsheba Robbins, and continued in the place until after her death, in 1845, when he removed to Columbus.

There is one more industry which we must not pass over in silence, although its existence would not be creditable to the township to-day. This was the still-house built by Ashel Wright. It was in operation in 1817, and be sides distilling liquor of several kinds, Mr.- Wright was engaged in the manufacture of the oil of peppermint. His building stood on the land now owned by Benjamin Davis.

Washington Township has not had much experience with slaves, but there are one or two incidents worthy of mention which occurred in the earlier days. There was a law in Ohio in the forepart of this century under which indigent persons were sold to the lowest bidder, not as slaves, but as paupers, kept at public expense. We take the following entry from Aaron Nutt, Sr.'s, journal, relative to one of these public sales:

"June 20, 1819. -- Seel was advertise July 3; was sold to the Loest Bidder, wich was Levy Nutt; sold for $50 by Aaron Nutt, Sener, & Isack woodward, oversers of the Poor for washington township."

This could in no case be called a sale for the personal liberty of the above-mentioned person, who, by the way, was a colored woman, but the Overseers of, the Poor merely let out the contract of keeping her to the person who was willing to do it for the least money.

There was one genuine fugitive slave case in the township. In the fall of 1826, there were various reports that a "nigger" had been seen in the woods near Centerville. One man by the name of Lawrence reported that he had seen him scooping up parched corn from the ground, and that he "looked like the devil." One morning, as the children of Peter Sunderland were going to school, they suddenly ran across him "in camp," and immediately returned home and reported to their father. Mr. Sunderland's men went out and found him roasting a duck. He was protected from the cold only by a sack, which he had found in the road and which he drew on over his head, having first ripped it sufficiently to make arm-holes. By these men he was taken to the home of Mr. Sunderland and there made to understand that he was among friends. He gave his name as Black John, and soon proved himself to be an honest and trustworthy hand.

One of Mr. Sunderland's daughters had a Kentucky suitor, and this gentleman reported the circumstance of Black John's capture to some of his friends who had lost a slave. One morning in the next summer, the household of Mr. Sunderland was in unusual commotion, and it was evident that visitors were expected whose advent was not agreeable One of the boys was sent out to the end of the lane to watch for them, but the cherry trees were too tempting and soon he was so busily engaged that he did not notice two strangers who walked hastily and quietly toward the house. When near the house, they were met by the brawny Peter Sunderland, who, with a drawn corn-cutter, commanded a halt. One of the men he grabbed by the collar, and, while he held the weapon over his head, threatening every minute to crash it into his brain, he called to John to make his escape. John needed no second bidding, and, with a few rapid strides, reached the woods and was soon out of harms way, it is hoped, for he was never heard from after. The treacherous Kentuckian who had brought about the event was forbidden the house of Mr. Sunderland, as he richly deserved to be.

We take the following entry from James Russell's journal:

April 9,1828. Abel Morseman commenced work at $75 per yr, washing and mending to be done in the bargain.

Dr. May 29. 1828. To making 2 pair of pantaloons at 25c per Ann, 50c.

May 29, 1828. Paid Simon H. Douglass 25c for soleing shoes.

Sept. 27, 1828. Making cambric shirt by Polly, 75c.

Sept. 29, 1828. To ditto 25c each 50c. At the end of the year there were 21 days lost time at 26c, $5.46c.

Wages overdrawn $1.02.

We give the following wages in 1842: Making rails, 50 cents per day; making hay, 50 cents per day; reaping and mowing, 62 cents. Flour, $2 per cwt.; pickled pork, 1½ cents per pound; rye, 20 cents per bushel; corn, 20 cents per bushel; two-horse team, $1.50; carriage hire, in 1840, 25 cents per day; cider, $1 per barrel.

Washington Township takes the lead in the matter of public officials and local government. It has always been run in the interests of economy and at the same time law, order and social and intellectual development.

The first election held in the county was June 21, 1803, and this township cast ninety-five votes for Governor. The township has been reduced since then, but the number of voters now is 440. The first election for Justice of the Peace was on the second Tuesday in October, 1805, when the following votes were polled: John McCabe, 35; John McGrew, 32: Richard Mason, 1; total, 68.

Among our township officers, we number the following: James Russell and James McGrew, Justices of the Peace, 1811; John McGrew and William Long, Justices of the Peace, 1812.

Township Clerks-Edmund Munger, 1809-26; Hugh Alexander, 1826-28; John Woodman, 1828-30; R. S. McGrew, 1830-33; James Wilson, 1833-55; Daniel Crosley, 1855-61; Clark Prim, 1861 to the present time (1882).

Treasurers--Thomas Clawson, --- to 1809; James Russell, 1809-11; Richard Mason, 1811-25; Goldsmith Chandler, 1825-26; James Harris, 182629; John Benham, 1829-31: James C. Anderson, 1831; John Juning, 1831-40; James Harris, 1840-42; N. V. Maxwell, 1842-65; R. M. Anderson, 1865-67; N. V. Maxwell, 1867 to the present time (1882).

Postmasters--John Archer, appointed March 1, 1815; Enos Doolittle, December 2, 1823; Nathaniel Strong, July 12, 1827; James Brown, August 19, 1829; Thomas Creighton, November 2, 1832; James Harris, May 3, 1841; John H. Campbell, May 12, 1843; Enos Doolittle, February 6, 1844; James Brown, July 14, 1845; Israel Harris, July 6, 1846; R. M. Anderson, March 29, 1855; Wayland P. James, April 10, 1857; W. G. Stewarts, July 15, 1858; Samuel Clutch, August 24, 1858; James C. Anderson, August 25, 1859; N. V. Maxwell, November 2, 1863; Mrs. Albina Benham, January 7, 1867.

It is interesting to notice, the difference in the township expenses of a few years back and those of to-day.

The total expenses for the year 1808 were $102.63, and of this amount $70 were for the support of the poor.

In March, 1829, the trustees, in settlement with the Treasurer, made this statement: "We find now in the Treasurer's hands one note of hand and several depreciated bank notes, which are considered of no value, to the amount of $19.81¼; amount in Treasurer's hands, 91¼ cents.

"1839--Total receipts, $25.24½; total expenses, $25.23½; amount on hand, 1 cent. Of the expenses this year, the Treasurer received as his per cent, 73½ cents."

Between this date and the present, the wants of the county must have increased wonderfully, if we are to judge from the general exhibit of the Treasurer's books for March, 1881:

Disbursements--School funds, $4,930.04; incidental expenses, $4,038.96; roads, $1,345.34; cemetery, $17.80; total, $10,332.14; Treasurer's per cent, $144.34.

This wide difference is not an indication of extravagance, but of general improvement. For instance, in 1839, if the report is to be relied on, there could have been no public schools, while in the report of 1881 we find a large share of total expenses was for school purposes.

In 1865, Russia sent an agent to the United States to inquire into the principles and workings of our Government. As a matter of course, he came to Ohio, and, not finding just what he wanted at Columbus, he came down to Dayton. At Dayton, he said he wanted to get at the very bottom of the matter, and asked what township was best governed, as he intended going into the matter to its foundation. "Washington Township, of course," responded the county officials. He came out, bringing a letter of introduction to the Treasurer, and spent some time in examining the township books. The full title of this interesting Russian was J. Kapnist, attache a la II Section de la chancellerie particuliere de S. M. l'Empereur de Russie.

Washington Township has always been noted for the liberality of her citizens. Their hearts are large and an appeal for help has never been made to them in vain. In the late war, a call was made by the soldiers' families in Dayton for wood. The first call was not generally known in the township, and consequently the response was not very large. At the second call, however, the entire township was quick to heed, and seventy loads of wood, measuring out seventy-five cords, were hauled into town on the same day. This was more wood than was contributed by the entire county outside of Washington Township. The wood was hauled in procession, Benjamin Davis being Marshal for the day.

Not only has she been willing to contribute of her means, but her citizens have not hesitated to stake their lives for their country's freedom or rights.

In the war of 1812 were the following men from the township: Gen. Edmund Munger, Capt. John Harris, Capt. William Luce, Capt. Joseph Ewing, Capt. Kiser, Benjamin Maltbie, recruiting officer, Harvey Munger, William Kelsey, Henry Stansell, Daniel McNeil, teamsters; Truman Munger, Amos Irvin, Lieutenants; William Duncan, William Newman, rangers; Oliver Tolbert, James Tolbert, Daniel Shaw, Richard Duncan, Richard Sunderland, Peter Sunderland, Abraham Russell, James Russell, Peter Clawson, William G. Ewing, David Lamme; Thomas Kelsie, John Shank, Thomas Hatfield, John Hatfield, James White, Joseph White, Thomas Bigger, John C. Murphy, Richard Benham, John Benham, John Wilson, Simeon Wilson, Austin Webb, George Key, Robert Silvers, Isaac Harrison, William Irvin, privates.

In the Wolverine war of 1835, when the regiment was called together tat Miamisburg, and the list of volunteers taken, it presented the following names: Richard Benham, Jr., and Newton Fleming, of Washington, and Col. William Sawyer, of Miami Township.

In the Mexican war, John Woodyard and James Pope represented this township, or would have represented it had they succeeded in getting to Mexico.

In the war of 1861, the township furnished her full quota of soldiers, but, as their names are soon to be recorded on the soldiers' monument at Dayton, we leave their record to the sculptured marble, which will be more enduring than the feeble lines of this pen.

Although Washington Township has not made as rapid advancement in educational matters as her progress in other directions would lead us to expect, yet along the dark passages of her illiteracy there have been glimmerings of light whose beams have penetrated to her farthest borders, and in their influence are destined to live for years yet to come.

One of these points in her history was the establishment of a public library as early as 1810. This library was kept up for thirty years, and was a source of much intellectual improvement to the township. It was in the hands of a joint-stock company, incorporated under the following law:

Feb. 19, 1810. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, that Edmund Munger, Daniel Bradstreet, Noah Tibbals, John Harris, Israel Harris, Benjamin Maltbie, Amoni Maltbie, Ethol Kellogg, Jeremiah Hole, Elihu Kellogg, Freeman Munger, Edmund K. Munger, Reuben Munger, Ezra Kellogg, Jonathan Munger and Harvey Munger be and they are together with such other persons as shall be by them hereafter admitted created and made a corporation and body politic with perpetual Succession and Shall hereafter be Known by the name and title of the Washington Social Library Company. That Edmund Munger, Benjamin Maltbie, Daniel Bradstreet, Noah Tibbals, John Harris, Ethol Kellogg and Jeremiah Hole be and they are hereby appointed directors until the first annual meeting of said corporation. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after the passage thereof. Meeting of the members for Election of Officers 1st Tuesday in April annually in the Township of Washington and county of Montgomery,

                                                                                   EDWARD TIFFIN,
                                                                                                  Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Speaker of the Senate.

Harrison Maltbie, son of Judge Benjamin Maltbie, makes a very clear statement concerning the above charter. "About 1840, a stranger went through the township, bought the shares of the stockholders, and kept everything secret till he had full control; he then came to my father to buy his two shares. My father said to him, 'You want to establish a bank on this charter?' He acknowledged that was the calculation. My father told him when the charter was obtained, a pledge was given that it should not be so used; he replied that he had the power already to control it, and he would use it, and, to avoid trouble, he would give my father $30 for his two shares. My father took it. This man moved the concern to Miamisburg and started the Washington Bank."

Its life was a brief one, but long enough for some persons to lose large amounts of money. Israel Harris and his son James, of Centerville, were invited to take stock in the bank; they visited Miamisburg and examined into it far enough to satisfy themselves that it would not do.

In 1848, a joint-stock company was organized in Centerville for the establishment of an academy. Property was purchased and' a substantial two-story stone building was erected at a cost of $3,000. Prof. Johnson, now of Jeffersonville, Ind., was the first Principal, and under his management the school prospered for a few years very remarkably. Besides the languages, mathematics and sciences, there was taught book-keeping, surveying and history.

The school was closed, however, in 1861, and the building was afterward sold to the Baptists, who erected a church on its site.

There is at present a decided improvement in the schools all over the township. The district schools are better than they ever were before, and the feeling now is that Washington is going to come out of the woods and take her proper position among her sister townships. Besides this general improvement, a select school was opened up in Centerville, in the fall of 1881, which promises to be very successful.


There are three villages in the township, which were once places of considerable importance, but, since the decline of the mills and factories, which gave them life, the once active and noisy streets have become silent and almost deserted, and the towns are all very quiet and inoffensive in their character. The interest has been entirely transferred to the country, whose rising young men and women are the true bone and sinew of the township.

Woodburn, in the northwestern part was once a place of considerable business capacity. Here the manufacturing company located their factory, and, in the palmy days of that establishment, Woodburn carried on a brisk trade with the surrounding farmers. Besides the factory and private dwellings, the town boasted of a tavern, familiarly known as "Townsley's Tavern," a foundry and machine shop and the calico printer's establishment before referred to. For a number of years, it also supported a good country store.

The town was the outgrowth of the factory, for we find that the first lots were sold in May, 1818, two years after the organization of the company. At present, there remains nothing to mark the, place except a few dwelling-houses and a new brick church.

Stringtown, in the southeastern part of the township, dates back to about the same time, but never attained any particular importance, except as the location of David Miller's tannery and a few shops of divers kinds. There remains of it at present its classical appellation and a few good farmer citizens.

Centerville, about midway between Woodburn and Stringtown, received its name from its location--being seven miles from Miamisburg, Springboro and Ridgeville, nine from Dayton, Upper Shaker Village, Waynesville and Franklin, and fourteen from Middletown, Xenia, Lebanon and Lower Shaker Village. It is located on the highest point between Lebanon and Dayton, on the watershed of the Miamis.

It dates earlier than either of the other places, and was probably laid out for a town as early as 1805 or 1806. We know of lots having been sold in 1808, and there was a town there at that time. In 1811, a store was opened up on Main street, and since then Centerville has never failed to be waited upon by one or more of the necessary emporiums of trade. It has been twice incorporated--once in 1830 and again in 1879. The first officials under the earlier incorporation were: Samuel S. Robbins, Mayor; Henry W. Reider, Marshal; Robert G. McEwen, Clerk. These officers served some time without having a case, when the boys made up a pony purse and hired Joseph Beck to lead his horse on the pavement before the Mayor. A warrant was immediately issued by that functionary and the playful Joseph was arrested and fined 50 cents, the Mayor declaring with great gusto that order and the dignity of the city should be preserved at all hazards. The first officials under the new incorporation, which declares that Centerville is a hamlet, were: William Dodd, President of the Council; W. H. Lamme, M. D., and S. G. Stewart, M. D., Trustees; Joseph Nutt, Clerk and Treasurer; Joseph Loy, Marshal.

In 1812, as Gen. Harrison was marching north to retrieve the fortunes of Hull, he passed through the town and encamped two miles to the north, on the west side of the pike, a little to the southwest of Whip's tobacco shed.

As he came up from the south, he observed a girl making desperate efforts to mount a fractious colt, and, supposing the music was making matters worse for her, he ordered it stopped. In the meantime, the girl had succeeded in mounting and flew past like a shot, bareback and vigorously applying the birch. "Strike up," shouted the General, "there is no danger of that girl's being thrown." When he came into town, he ordered a halt, while he went into the hotel to inquire the name of the female equestrian and compliment her on her horsemanship. The girl's name was Sallie Archer, afterward Mrs. Thomas Davis.

At the same time, one of Gen. Harrison's soldiers; a Frenchman, discovered a fine fat cat basking in front of the tavern. Mrs. Archer, the owner of the cat, having given him permission to take the cat with him, he immediately shot Sir Thomas, and, having skinned it, put it in his haversack. It is supposed that he enjoyed a good roast that night.

Centerville was once a place of some importance, but, like Woodburn and Stringtown, began to grow old when the manufacturing interests were permitted to fall into disuse. It has to-day a population of about 275, and supports one dry goods store, three groceries, a meat-shop, two stone shops, three blacksmith shops, two wagon-makers, a hotel and a good post office. The health of its citizens is looked after by W. H. Lamme and S. G. Stewart; its morals are attended to by the Methodist Episcopal and Baptists, both Old and New School, under the leadership of Rev. Deem and Elders Thompson and Wilson.


Copy of the article for the ground upon which the first meeting-house in Washington Township, Montgomery Co., Ohio, was built:

We promise to pay or cause to be paid unto Aaron Nutt or Order the just and full sum of Fifteen Dollars and that in behalf of the Baptist church of Sugar Creek, it being a compensation for a lot purchased to build a Meeting House On and to be paid as follows, By three Dollars in plank, three Dollars in Glass, one Dollar in a pare of I--L Hinges all to Be Delivered and paid to the said Nutt when the Meeting House is ready to receive them and Eight Dollars on or before the twenty-fifth day of December Next Insueing the date Hereof as Witness Our Hands and Seals the first Day of June One Thousand Eight Hundred and two. Note above characters represent the word Hook.

Testis: JOHN McINTOSH.                                                                        BENJAMIN ARCHER, [Seal.]
                                                                                                                          NATHANIEL KNOTTS, Deacons.

The following credits appear on the above article without dates: Received $4.2/4 of the within bill; ditto $3.2/4. Credit for 350 feet of plank.

The church proceeded to build a house of worship, and empowered the building committee to pay for hewing the logs in country produce. The building of the house was contracted for ₤50, for which the contractor was to take cattle or work, if paid within a specified time; if otherwise, it was to be paid in cash, and said house to be ready for rise by June 1, 1803. Some of the puncheons for floor in said house are still in existence (February, 1882).

The house being finished, a way through the wilderness must be prepared for the scattered members and their friends to go up to the house of the Lord. Accordingly, committees were appointed to mark trees from the meetinghouse to Wilson's and McGrew's settlements, each distant about five miles, in opposite directions. Rev. Charles McDaniel, Baptist missionary, sent by an English society, was the first minister in Washington Township. This church was raised and constituted in 1799, under the labors of Elder Daniel Clark, who was the only minister within many miles. As near as can now be ascertained, as some records are lost, there were nine members--four males and five females. It was constituted in a private house of one of the members, and a printed covenant was adopted, which had been brought from Kentucky by one of the members. The first church meeting on record was held November 2, 1799. Monthly meetings for business were then appointed, and these have continued till the present time. The first addition was by letter, January 1, 1800, and, in June following, was the first addition by baptism, Mary Etchason. Dr. John Hole was the first person baptized in Hole's Creek, September 6, 1801. In this year, the church united with the Miami Association. Early in the present century, Elder Joshua Carman settled near this church, and, on the 1st of January, 1802, the church employed him to preach a part of the time. In this year was the first subscription for the support of the Gospel. When the church was organized, the country was a wilderness, the first settlement not two years previous. Yet, before the close of 1802, her membership had increased twenty-one by letter and eight by baptism. Frequent cases of discipline are mentioned, and the first exclusion is mentioned in March, 1805. In April of this year, the church employed Elder John Mason to preach twice a month, till September, 1823. The first member regularly dismissed was in 1806; first restoration in 1808; from then until 1811 the records are poorly kept. In 1812, Elder Jacob Mulford was employed to preach once a month till 1823 or 1824. In 1818, an effort was made to-build a new house of worship of brick, but the effort failed. In 1824, Elder Hezekiah Stites was employed to preach one Sabbath in each month, and a subscription was raised to be paid in sugar for part of his services. In 1827, Elder Samuel Catteral preached for the church a portion of the time. In 1830, they employed Elder Peter Webb as pastor, which relation he sustained till 1835. Purchased an addition to the graveyard this year. In May, 1831, agreed to build a new house of worship. Brother Daniel Wilson was appointed agent and building committee; in 1832, the house was finished and committee discharged with entire approbation and hearty thanks. January, 1836, called Elder Robert Missildine to preach one-half the time, but, proving himself unworthy the confidence reposed in him, he was dismissed. After September, 1836, preaching a part of the time by different ministers--by Elder Muncier Jones, Brother Orasmus Osgood and Brother Lewis Osborn, Elder William Sutton and Elder John Blodget. In April, 1842, Elder John Blodget was settled as pastor; in October, his health failed and Elder Henry Ward was engaged until the pastor's health was restored; in 1852, the pastor closed his labors with the church. Elder Zelora Eaton employed to preach semi-monthly for six months. In 1853, Elder Samuel Marshall employed one-half the time, till 1856. In January, 1857, Brother Seth D. Bowker; with him the church made its first arrangement for preaching every Sabbath. In March, 1859, the church called Elder J. W. Weatherby to the pastorate; continued till 1865. H. Ward, pastor from May 1, 1866, to May, 1868. John E. Craig, January 9, 1869, to November, 1870. H. Ward, from July 1, 1871, to April, 1874. J. C. Armstrong, from April 4, 1874, to May 15, 1876. Watson Dana, from November 19, 1876, to May 15, 1878. J. H. Wilson since October 1, 1878.

The present house of worship was built in 1871 and dedicated in 1872. The above represents the New School Baptist Church.

In reference to the above church, the following enactment of the Legislature is found:

Feb. 4, 1815. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, that Benjamin Archer Abner Gerard, and Edward Mitchel and their associates for the time being be and they are hereby created and declared a body politic by the name of the Regular Baptist called Sugar Creek, and as such shall remain and have perpetual succession, subject, however, to such future alterations as the Legislature may think proper to make.


After the division of the Baptist Church, which, from the records, seems to have been somewhere between 1821 and 1824, the two bodies were then known respectively as Old and New School Baptist. The following are the names of the Elders who have served the Old School in Centerville from the division to the present time: Elder Wilson Thompson, Jacob Mulford, Stephen Gard, Thomas Childers, Moses Frazee, ---- Kingham, Elihu Moore, Samuel Williams (preached sixteen years), William Butler, John A. Thompson, Grigg Thompson, John M. Thompson (since January, 1877). About 1828, built a stone meeting-house, which was occupied until a few years ago, when they erected a neat frame house. John A. Thompson preached the dedication sermon. Regular preaching the fourth Sunday in each month and Saturday before in Centerville.


The Universalists commenced preaching here about 1826 or 1827, the first sermon by Jonathan Kidwell, in the old pioneer log meeting-house, after that preaching sometimes in private houses, and quite frequently in the school house; there they organized and prospered for many years, having regular meetings, the ministers full of zeal and full of debate. Elder Samuel Williams, of the Old School Baptist, and Elihu Moore, Universalist, had debate for days in the Baptist Church of Centerville; at the conclusion, both parties claimed the victory. Jonathan Kidwell was said to be very generous to his opponents. After a sermon, it is said, he would extend the privilege to any one present to make known their opposition to his doctrine. On one occasion in Preble County, an old German rose up and said: "Mr. Kidwell, if your doctrine ish true, we has got enough of it, and, if it ish not true, we wants no more of it." And down he sat.


At an early date, Thomas Horner and four sons--John, David, Joseph and Jacob--with their families, all members of the Society of Friends, settled in this township, and, for awhile, attended the Friends' meetings in Waynesville. On New Year's Day, 1816, Solomon Miller and family, from Pennsylvania, also Friends, moved into the neighborhood and a meeting was soon organized on Sugar Creek, one and a half miles southeast of Centerville. About 1822 came Abijah Taylor and family and Goldsmith Chandler and family, from Virginia. Then Amos Kinworthy, from Pennsylvania, and David Miller, who sunk a tanyard and built the brick house at the cross roads in Stringtown. Then came Job Jennings and family, from New Jersey. Caleb Miller came about 1822 or 1823; Nathan Ballard about the same time; he was a cooper and his shop was on the lot adjoining the township hall in Centerville, on the east side. Later, came the Haines family, we think, from New Jersey; Paul Sears and family, from North Carolina; Joseph and Solomon Hollingsworth, from Virginia. We are not certain about the Horners' native State, but it is now supposed to be North Carolina. Isaac Hasket came in at a later date, and was about the last member of the meeting, which is now entirely among the things that are past. For years, monthly meetings were held alternately at Sugar Creek and Springboro. By 1860, meetings had about ceased, Isaac Hasket and the Sears family being the sole representatives of that once pleasant society. Hasket moved to Iowa. The Sears, with the exceptions of Charles and Mary, attached themselves to other societies. The old meeting-house, after its abandonment as such, was occupied a few years as a dwelling, when it was burned down. Nothing now marks the spot but the old burying-ground. Thomas Miller, son of the above-named Solomon, is a prominent minister in the Society of Friends; residence, Springboro, Warren Co., Ohio. The writer, as well as all acquaintances of James C. Anderson, will be surprised to learn that he was not a member; such is the case, he was not.


The earliest record that we have of the Washington Presbyterian Church is a record of a congregational meeting, held November 29, 1813, Rev. William Robison, presiding, at which three trustees were chosen, viz., Jonathan Munger, Edmund Munger and Ira Mead. On August 20, 1817, the first record of a meeting of a church session occurred, constituted as follows: Ministers, Rev. Grey, Rev. Burgess; Elders, Messrs. Tunis Vandevere, Zebulon Baird and Fergus McClane. At this meeting, the following persons were admitted to full membership: Noah Tibbals, Benjamin Maltbie, George Reeder, Peggy Reeder, Edmund Munger, Eunice Munger, Jonathan Munger, Elizabeth Munger, Seth Kellogg, Eunice Kellogg, Andrew Bailey and Olive Porter. At this meeting, the following persons were elected by the congregation Elders of the church: George Reeder, Edmund Munger and Benjamin Maltbie, and, on the 31st of August, the same year, these Elders were ordained by the Rev. W. Hughs. At this period, it was the custom to hold two services on the same Sabbath, the people taking lunch with them. The records do not show where the meetings were held, but most likely from house to house. Subsequently, out-door meetings became quite common, and a great many added to the church; this was especially true of a camp-meeting, which was held some time between the years 1829 and 1833 or 1834, under the preaching of the Rev. John L. Belville, recently deceased, one of the most talented and eloquent divines of that day. He became the pastor of this church March 24, 1830, and continued in this office up to 1840; during this period, upward of 120 persons were added to the church. The first division in the church seems to have grown out of the sale of pews, part of the church being opposed to the plan, and, in consequence, several of the most liberal and efficient members withdrew or were disciplined.

The next occasion of a division was the question of dispute in reference to doctrine, which ended in the split into Old and New School. A small minority of the members withdrew and made an attempt to organize a church on the New-School doctrine, but did not succeed. The majority of the members continued their adherence to the original organization, and the organization has been kept up with varying success up to the present time. The original plan was to build the church in Centerville, and $906 were raised by subscription for this purpose. Subsequently, a subscription was started to build said church at or near the high bridge, which succeeded in raising only $80, but what they lacked in money they seem to have made up in energy, for we find that they finally carried the point. This was a compromise; part of the then congregation lived at Miamisburg, and it was argued that the church ought to be located so as to accommodate both sections. So the church was located near the bridge. The records of this church show that near 400 names appeared upon its roll from its organization up to the present time. The first Sabbath school in this township was organized in this church.


The denomination which embraces the largest number of members in the township is the Methodist Episcopal, but, owing to the fact that they have never kept an official record, their history is somewhat curtailed in this work.

The following facts, however, we are enabled to lay before our readers through the kindness of Mr. and Mrs. Abner Harris, who are members of the church of long standing, and were acquainted with many of the earliest Methodists of the township. Mr. Harris himself is a native of the township and Mrs. Harris removed here from Kentucky in 1806.

The first Methodist in the township was Henry Opdyke, whose cabin stood on the farm now owned by Mrs. Eleazer Williamson, three miles northeast of Centerville. At his cabin, in 1809, Rev. John Collins preached the first Methodist sermon in the township. He also organized a class-meeting, the first leader of which was Aaron Nutt, Jr. In this cabin Mr. Harris says he witnessed a more exciting love feast than he has ever seen since. The meetings were held here until Mr. Opdyke donated a lot to the congregation, upon which their ready hands and keen axes soon put up a log church. This was used for several years for public worship, but finally was permitted to be torn down, and was never rebuilt.

The next church put up was a log building on land donated by Mathias Pearson, about three miles south of Centerville, on the present Dayton & Lebanon pike. The date given to this church is 1813 or 1814, and the appointment was called Rehobeth. There was a good congregation here for those days, and among the members we note the following: Mathias Pearson, John Roberts, Thomas Swift, ---- Rhodes, ---- Conley. The old log building was used for several years, when it was torn down and a neat brick church erected in its stead. This church was continued to within the last few years, when it shared the same fate as its more humble predecessor. At present, there is no building on the lot.

Shortly after the establishment of Rehobeth appointment, David Watkins donated a lot for church purposes on the farm now owned by George Sears, about three miles southeast of Centerville, on Sugar Creek. A log church was also erected here and the appropriate name of Hopewell given to the appointment. It is worthy of note that, with the exception of the Presbyterians, every denomination has begun its evangelical work in this township in log buildings. Hopewell, like Rehobeth, enjoyed several years of prosperity, but, like the church at Opdyke's, never passed into a second existence. The following are some of the members: David Watkins, Daniel Watkins, Jonathan Watkins, George Watkins, James Proud and Jeremiah Allen.

At the time of the establishment of the church in this township, Miami Circuit was under the control of the conference in Kentucky, by whom, in 1810, the circuit was divided, the northern division retaining the old name of Miami, while the southern was called Union Circuit. At this time, services were held at the various appointments only once in every five or six weeks. In 1811, Union and Miami Circuits were joined together, but this arrangement was only continued until October 1, 1812, when Union was again set off by the conference at Chillicothe.

The early Methodists were not wealthy, and, although they gave what they could to maintain the ministry, yet the remuneration was scarcely sufficient to support these apostles of Christ. That their pastorate was no sinesure will be seen by the following collections, taken at nine appointments in 1811: Union, $31.95; Xenia, $8.50; Campbell, $3; Baumgardner's, $2; Widow Smiths, '$3.37½; Lebanon, $32.25; Dyche's, $1.18¾; Hasberger's, $3.75; Proud's, $3.40; total, $89.311/9.

We are unable to give a complete list of the various ministers who have been on this circuit, but some of the following names are yet familiar in many Methodist households: Solomon Langdon, first Presiding Elder; Marcus Lindsey, Joseph Tatman, Moses Crume and Jacob Miller, regularly ordained ministers, and Bennet Maxey, helper, in 1813 and 1814; Amos Sparks and Robert Burns, local preachers in 1816 and 1817. Among other names are the following: John Strange, John Sale, John P. Durbin (afterward a Bishop), Russell Biglow, William Dixon, Arthur Elliott, Albert Goddard, George Maly, Michael Marley. ---- Hardy, ---- Parson, ---- Sullivan. ---- Brook.

Previous to 1833, there was no church in Centerville, and their services up to that time were held in the schoolhouse and the Baptist Church. In the summer of that year, a stone building was erected, which continued to be used for divine services until 1867, when a brick building, costing $.12,000, was put up in its stead. Since then, a fine two-story frame parsonage has been erected on the church lot.

At present, the church is in a flourishing condition, and under the spiritual guidance of Rev. Reuben K. Deem.


Many changes have taken place in the township since its first settlement, and especially within the last few years, the spirit of progress has taken possession of the people. The old log huts of our pioneer forefathers have long been torn down; the buildings erected in their stead have also been superseded; moderately good houses have been remodeled and refitted, and to-day attractive and even elegant dwellings adorn and beautify every road. The old log stables and rail corn-pens have passed from sight, and in their stead we find that commodious barns and well-arranged granaries have sprung up as if by magic on every farm. And not these conveniences alone has the farmer obtained, which serve to make life pleasant and agreeable when indoors, but he keeps fully up with the spirit of the age in the matter of machinery to lighten labor. The old sickle has been hung up, the cradle has been laid away and the most improved self-binder is seen ready oiled in the barn of every farmer. Everything is done with neatness and dispatch, and, as a consequence, he has more time to attend to those little matters of improvement which make up the grand total of our development.

These things show no place more plainly in the relative valuation of land now and seventy or eighty years ago. In 1804, Aaron Nutt paid, on the 100 acres of the north end of his half-section of land, a tax of 50 cents. A few years later, he sold the land for $4 per acre. The present owner of the same land, Benjamin Davis, paid $140 per acre for it, and his tax for 1880 amounted to $70.04.

Not only private but public improvement is rife among her citizens. The churches have been overhauled, repainted, refitted or rebuilt without exception in the last few years. The Methodists led off in this line by putting up a fine brick building in 1867. Since then, both Baptist Churches have followed their example, and the New School have added also a parsonage.

In 1870, the Trustees of the township submitted the question of a town hall to the voters, and, with an overwhelming majority, they responded "Yes." The building was erected in 1880, and is quite a model for neatness and sensible arrangement.

The T., D. & B. R. R. passes through the township one mile east of Centerville, and a side track has been graded from this road to the stone quarry of John E. Allen. This quarry has been leased to a Xenia man, and it is expected to take out 400 perch of stone daily as soon as the road is in successful operation.

Statement of Mr. Joseph Manuel as to the quality and quantity of stone in Washington Township. He is at present and has been a worker in stone for a period of forty-five years; he has worked in many different quarries, so that his opinion is a valuable one. He says the basis of our limestone is the Hudson drift, or blue limestone. The next is the Clinton formation, or coral rock, formed in salt water. The next is the Niagara group. Our stone, he says, is of a superior quality to any limestone formation, and the reason why, its base of formation is the crystal of lime, formed by pressure and heats. As to its beauty, it is susceptible of the finest polish; the color is a bright gray; it will polish like glass. For durability, no superior. To resist pressure, it cannot be battered. It will resist all the effects of frost or water. The above stone, are here, not merely by the load or perch, but by the acre. The stripping is light compared with other quarries in the county, generally from two to six feet stone are then taken out of any desirable thickness or length. Mr. Manuel says there are 5,600 perch to the acre. Upon his lot, about one-half an acre of which he is quarrying stone from, in the last twenty years, with his labor added, he has sold not less than $5,000 worth of stone.

The following statement from W. H. Lamme, M. D.: The situation of Washington Township is generally elevated, except the southwest corner, where the tributaries of Hole's Creek take their rise, and a small strip of the western part of the township, which lies alongside of Hole's Creek, which creek traverses the entire length of that part of the township. The summit land between the Great and Little Miami Rivers, is in the center of the township, about where the town of Centerville lies. From the absence of large streams, we are not subject to fogs, as they are upon the river bottoms; nor are we subject to the ague, although fevers of a malarious and epidemic character often prevail during the autumn season of the year. What is known as goitre, or enlargement of the thyroid glands of the neck, commonly called big neck by the people, seems to prevail to an unusual extent in this township. No cause has ever been assigned for this. The temperature, both winter and summer, does not materially differ from that of the river bottoms, although vegetation is usually two weeks or more later here than they are there--a circumstance which is more attributable to soil than location. We have a subsoil of clay, while they have one of gravel.

Brookville Historical Society, Inc. 2003

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